Malcolm D. Lee, director of the forthcoming Looney Tunes movie “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” told Entertainment Weekly last week that he demanded the female lead — a cartoon rabbit named “Lola Bunny” — be “desexualized” in order to ensure that little girls seeing the movie saw a “strong, capable” female character.
Lola Bunny was created out of whole cloth for the original 1996 “Space Jam” movie starring Michael Jordan alongside a crew of Looney Tunes regulars, including Bugs Bunny. In that film, Lola, who is extremely talented at basketball — but still a cartoon rabbit — is portrayed as “hot” and dressed in a crop top and skirt, exposing her midriff and showing off breasts that do not appear to be accurate to Lola’s species.
Lola eventually impresses Bugs Bunny and he falls in love with her.
In the sequel, though, Lee wanted a “strong, capable” female character that wasn’t so “politically incorrect.”
“Lola was very sexualized, like Betty Boop mixed with Jessica Rabbit,” Lee told Entertainment Weekly. “Lola was not politically correct. This is a kids’ movie, why is she in a crop top? It just felt unnecessary, but at the same time there’s a long history of that in cartoons.”
“This is 2021. It’s important to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters,” he added. “She probably has the most human characteristics of the Tunes; she doesn’t have a thing like a carrot or a lisp or a stutter. So we reworked a lot of things, not only her look, like making sure she had an appropriate length on her shorts and was feminine without being objectified, but gave her a real voice. For us, it was, let’s ground her athletic prowess, her leadership skills, and make her as full a character as the others.”
Lee also claims that “Space Jam” exists in the world of “Wonder Woman,” because both franchises are Warner Bros. products.
To that end, Lola now has a regular basketball jersey and shorts with a second pair of shorts underneath. She’s also lost her figure and is no longer wearing makeup.
The Pandemic hit Lola Bunny hard. pic.twitter.com/zUg6JruE0n
— Liz Katz (@LizKatzOfficial) March 5, 2021
Although these decisions were made months ago, they seem to be taking on a new meaning in light of a Dr. Seuss Enterprises decision, announced last week, to end production of six of the children’s author’s works. The outcry over Seuss-related criticism and subsequent “cancellation,” prompted one columnist to take a closer look at Looney Tunes and accuse the franchise of promoting “rape culture” through cartoon skunk, Pepe LePew, and racist stereotypes through cartoon mouse, Speedy Gonzales.
Pepe will not appear in the “Space Jam” sequel, the Daily Wire reported earlier Monday. Speedy Gonzales, though, will appear in the movie. Actor and comedian Gabriel Iglesias defended Speedy from criticism on Sunday.
“I am the voice of Speedy Gonzales in the new Space Jam. Does this mean they are gonna try to cancel Fluffy too?” Iglesias posted to Twitter. “U can’t catch me cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico.”
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